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Theresa Cahill

Theresa Cahill


Kingsport, Tennessee

I have completed four rotations with Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee. I worked in a different area for each assignment. I started in a R&D role in a lab setting where I completed experiments to determine kinetic parameters for specific reactions. Then in my second role, I supported the Fibers Pilot Plant and worked on improvement projects within the plant. In my third role, I worked in a chemical manufacturing area working on process improvement projects. In my last term, I worked in Advanced Controls Technology which is a group that designs and optimizes control strategies throughout the plant. I also interned with ExxonMobil and worked at their Beaumont, TX site. In that role, I supported projects at the site as a process designer.

I decided to co-op because I wanted to learn more about the different roles available to a chemical engineer in industry. I felt like a co-op would give me a variety of experiences to help me refine what areas of chemical engineering I am most interested in. I also wanted the work experience, which I felt would make me a competitive applicant when I looked for a full-time job.

My biggest takeaway from my co-op was learning about the power of networking. When you first start in a position, it can be difficult to know who can help with certain problems or who would know someone with the information you need. Building up a network of people to ask for help or to contact when you have questions is often necessary to get projects moved forward quickly. It is also really beneficial to find someone who can serve as a mentor and pull you onto projects they think you would enjoy.

Participating in a co-op has helped me to build up my skills as an engineer and learn different ways of problem solving. I have gotten to meet many different engineers who approach problems differently from me and getting to learn from them has been very valuable. I also was able to apply what I had learned in my classes, which helped me make connections between the different classes and better understand how the concepts related to one another. Through my co-op, I felt better prepared and more motivated to work hard and be challenged academically.

A co-op is a really great way to gain work experience, so that when you graduate you have a strong chance of being hired and a better understanding of the work you would do as an engineer.

In my free time, I enjoy running, playing soccer, baking, and cheering on the Vols at a variety of sports.

Theresa Cahill

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